The MERA Investigation
WHAT: An innovative, beach water quality investigation that considers human behavior, water pollution, and risk of illness
WHY: To improve beach management and protect public health in Costa Rica, other tropical regions, and throughout the world
WHO: Scientists from Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida, and Biological Consulting Services, INC. work in collaboration with Costa Rican institutions, Universities, and non-governmental, non-profit organizations
WHERE: A beach along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
WHEN: January 2017 through December 2022, on-site research during 2017-2019
Did you know…
Only 10% of the world’s household wastewater is properly treated and disinfected prior to flowing into rivers and ultimately, coastal beaches. Since this wastewater contains millions of pathogens, swimming and playing at beaches polluted by wastewater can greatly impact your health. Due to this exposure, millions of illnesses occur annually and this costs the global community approximately 12 billion USD each year. Despite scientific advancements, beach management approaches rely on outdated, compliance practices that do not accurately identify public health risks.
MERA is an investigation with real-world implications
During this innovative investigation, pathogens will be measured and the behaviors that put individuals at risk of illness from swimming and playing at the beach will be identified for a beach exposed to pollution. Health risks will be quantified and assessed from cultural, economic, and biological perspectives, and subsequently used to recommend societal changes that promote the well-being of human health and the sustainability of coastal ecosystems. This innovative investigation will advance local management practices as well as our global achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Furthermore, it is the first of its kind in a tropical setting. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the conservation of planetary health.